Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Half Baked

What follows are annoying thoughts that have been ground to meaningless gravel in my head for the past month or so. As soon as I think them through, and dismiss them, my brain belches them back up. Committing them to the ether seems the only way to purge them, but I've been wrong before:

Proximity and Privacy: Privacy breaches due to negligence occur when there is a distant relationship between the identity custodian and the individual. Malicious breaches occur when there is a close relationship between the two. (Half baked corollary: Web applications proxy a close relationship with distant actors.)

Metrics Will Be Juked: The compiling of stats is the prelude to the inevitable juking of stats. Observing, recording and reporting the data underlying a performance metric corrodes its value. The reason data that is difficult to access and compile is compelling is because it is difficult to access and compile. Once people realize that their behavior, or the results of their behavior are being observed and measured, their behavior will change, not necessarily to impact the desired results, but to change the metric. This change will be multiplied if the measure is tied to compensation or perceived to be tied to compensation.

Lone Gunmen Theory of Privacy Risk: Measuring a corporation's loss due of breach of privacy is futile and meaningless. This loss is not related to the harm to individuals whose privacy was violated. It makes no difference if the data is lost, stolen, or sold, or if it occurred within or without the bounds of the law. I don't see any equation that will match corporate postage, legal fees, data broker accounts receivables, or public relations consulting with personal financial trials, embarrassment, loss of employment, prohibition of travel, or physical detention. Privacy risk is borne by individuals, not corporations. Which is why I was a bit distressed when I read this:

If you are not suffering any damage due to these breaches, then why are you even trying to deter, detect, and respond to them in the first place?
In privacy, it's always the other guy that suffers the real damage.

Now I can concentrate on the important things: sorting out my emotions regarding the preemption of TV coverage of the German GP by live broadcast of Lady Bird's burial and Laguna Seca.

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